Monday, December 27, 2010

Update, 2011 Framework & Experiment...

I hope everyone is having a Happy Holiday Season!!!

I am really enjoying my two weeks of vacation. I don't go back until after the new year and it's been totally awesome. I even got the chance to meet my blog buddy Aaren last week at Navy Pier. Fun!!! I am so glad that we finally got to meet and she is such a sweetie. Come to find out, we even know some of the same people here in the Chi. Go figure!!! I will have to fill you in on that funny story later this week. =)

I have updates!!!

Christmas: I did ALL of my Christmas shopping for $335 this year!!! This has never happened before. Last year I spent $680. Go Chitown!!!

Bonus and Raise: I got a 19% bonus and a 5% raise!!! My salary will increase to $79,400 and my bonus will be approximately $8,500 after taxes.

Snowball: I am still stuck on paying down my credit card first which I know is against Dave Ramsey's plan. Someone talk me off the ledge!!!! This is my reasoning....

First, I am on a graduated repayment plan with my student loans which means that some of my loans are on interest only and eventually will move to principal and interest. I really need to pay off off the credit card balance to free up that cash flow so that I can handle any increases in payment, including increases in the interest rates on the private loans.

Second, I think if I am able to pay off the credit card debt, that will feel like a really BIG no HUGE win for me in Dave Ramsey's meaning. The way that I am feeling about credit of any kind let alone credit card debt is enough to make sure I won't go back into it ever again.

Third, if I don't pay off the credit card debt within the next 14 months, I will have to pay yet another balance transfer fee once the promotional rate on my BofA card runs out. This will be another increase in debt and that feels so upstream.

Fourth and Final point, the balance is currently at $19,240 thanks to the $740 in balance transfer fees added to the balance. If I put the entire $8,500 towards the balance, then I would be left with $10,740. Assuming that I at least pay $2,400 towards the balance in 2011, then the remaining balance at year end would be $8,340. I have been with the bank since 2000 and I have always received a bonus and and increase. Assuming I receive the same thing next year, then I can pay off the balance in full and begin a complete snowball of my student loans.

I would love to know your thoughts!!! Thanks in advance!!!

2011 Framework: The budget and debt repayment framework is coming along. I have my ING checking account and savings accounts set up. I did that last week and I am just waiting on the new debit card to arrive.

The sub-accounts for savings that I set up are as follows:

Auto Fund - For annual state and city registration.
Christmas Fund - For Christmas 2011.
Clothing Fund - For purchases and dry cleaning.
Gift Fund - For regular monthly gifting for birthdays, showers, etc.
Home Fund - For regular furnace and air conditioning maintenace.
Home Insurance - Annual premium is due in mid 2011.
Vacation Fund - I decided to build this into the budget -- nothing major.
Water Bill - This is for my quarterly water bill.

I know it may seem like a lot of sub accounts but these irregular expenses almost always bust the budget. Therefore, I am going to try to build them into my zero based budget monthly so that I can accrue for them ahead of time. Am I missing anything? Do you think this is overkill?

I am going to continue using my Bank Account for my bills and I will used my Bank of America Keep the Change Checking Account for personal spending for dining out, groceries, entertainment and any personal care.

Experiment: I've been doing this fun little experiment with the envelope system this month where I have $800/month or $200 per week for spending. What I've been doing this last month is withdrawing $200 in cash on Friday and using the envelope system with my Dave Ramsey wallet. The wallet which I purchased for $10 and absolutely LOVE is currently replacing my $100+ Coach wallet and has six envelope slots for gas, restaurants, food/groceries, entertainment, miscellaneous and receipts.

Since I pay for my gas and fuel expense with my debit card, I divide the $200 as follows: $100 for restaurants/dining out, $20 for groceries, $40 for entertainment, $20 for miscellaneous and $20 for personal care. This has actually worked out pretty well because I find that I do the majority of my spending on the weekend. So, I withdraw the money on Friday and then I have to make it on whatever is left the rest of the week until Friday rolls around again. No trips to the ATM!!!

At the end of the week, I have allowed myself to allot any remaining cash towards whatever category I want the next week. Then, when Friday rolls around again, I start the process all over again with a $200 cash withdrawal and divide it among the categories. It's actually been pretty fun!!! I am still working on it but it looks like the way my actual 2011 budget will work, is that I won't have $800/month or $200/week but rather $640 or $160/week. This experiment is still a nice way to get my spending under wraps before February rolls around and I am in the true thick of things with my zero based budget.

Okay...this was long. I guess I am making up for my lack of posting. Bless you if you made it this far. =)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Checking In...

Hi Everyone!!!

I am just checking in. I've been budgeting my butt off but there are still too many variables to lock down on a secure plan yet. Zero budgeting is tougher than I thought but putting in the framework is also difficult. I believe I will be able to fully implement the plan by February 1st.

Here's what I've got so far for the framework:
  • Open a money market Efund account here at the Bank with $2,000.
  • Continue direct deposit and auto bill pay for all monthly bills here from my Bank checking.
  • Reestablish ING saving escrow accounts for known irregular expenses: home insurance, quarterly water bill, car registration and licenses, etc.
  • Open an ING Electric Orange Checking Account to help facilitate payment of irregular expenses.
  • Use BofA Keep the Change Account for personal spending.

Variables in the air:

  • Whether I will need to help with my grandmother's funeral arrangements. We are doing a simple direct cremation so the cost will max out at $2,500.
  • Christmas shopping. I am doing very small gifts this year and my family is on board.
  • Annual bonus and increase figures. I should get this information this week and it goes into effect at the end of January to begin the 2011 plan.

What I hope for:

  • Minimum 4% increase which is what I got last year.
  • Minimum bonus of 15% of my salary. I received 14.8% last year for $10,773 and ~ $6,900 after taxes.
  • Pay off $800 Capital One Business Card in February.
  • Pay off $1,200 Capital One Credit Card in February.
  • Pay off $2,300 Perkins Loan in February.
  • Begin tacking the debt snowball with Private Loan - Group T - Pay off 1/2 of the $5,300.
How is everyone doing? How are you planning your Holiday Shopping? What are you budgeting this year?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Financial Software...

Dave Ramsey's financial software arrived last night and...OMG this budget stuff is hard. I brought my laptop to work so I could start on it during lunch and I am like...WOWZA!!! Okay Chitown...get it together!!!

It's going to take me a little while to get the plan in order but I am working on it. I finished Total Money Makeover last night while sitting with my grandmother in the hospital. I thought about her life and how she wanted more for me and my sister. We both have to do better.

Since I do have $5,000 remaining in savings. After I put aside $2,000 for an eFund and before I start debt repayment, I have a few irregular expenses below that need to be paid and I am also thinking about pre-funding seperate ING accounts for my home insurance due in June and a small $500 fund for car repairs.

  • $120 Annual Vehicle Sticker
  • $300 Annual Attorney Registration

* Scratch that $500 for car repairs. That's the purpose of the eFund right?!?!?!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Budgeting Software...

Dave Ramsey has a $10 sale going on over at his website on his books, cd's and software. I purchased the financial planning software because I have a really hard time with budgeting and his plan calls for a zero based budget. He says it usually takes a few months to get used to budgeting.

It is probably going to take me a while to get the handle on it, but knowing that I can't use my credit cards and I only have $1,000 in emergency funds should help.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Unemployment Information...

At a salary of $75,600, gross monthly income of $6,300 and take home pay of $4,575. Do you guys know how much my unemployment might be should I get laid off or where I can go to look for information on how to calculate?

A $1,000 eFund is clearly not going to cover a month of expenses so I am just trying to get a handle on everything before I implement my "plan" in January.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Total Money Makeover...

Hi Readers!!!

So I just finished reading Baby Step #2 in Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.

Step #1: Save $1,000 Emergency Fund
  • I can do this with the money I have in savings. I like the idea of of framing the $1,000 in a cheap glass frame and writing on the front, "In Case of Emergency, Break Glass."

Step #2: The Debt Snowball

  • I've been up in the air about Dave's plan because of my Credit Card and the desire to pay if off sooner rather than later. The problem with "my desire" is that I don't have the cash to pay off the entire balance so I don't get the momentum that the snowball plan offers. So...
  • The rate on my credit card with a $18,500 balance is Prime + 6.99% or 10.24% today. The promotional rate on some of the balance has already expired. The remaining promotional rates expire in 1/2011 and 3/2011 and then the entire balance will be at Prime + 6.99%.
  • I called around and the balance transfer offers weren't great. I transferred the balance from Chase to Bank of America at 1.99% through my statement cycle ending in 1/2012. Unfortunately, I could not get the 4% transfer fee waived or lowered. Trust me...I really tried. In the end, I am still saving with the balance transfer at 1.99% for 14 billing cycles.
  • So, the issue with whether to use my savings and bonus to pay down my credit card is null at this point. If I use Ramsey's plan which I am betting 100% I will, I will be paying off the balances smallest to largest. That means, I will be knocking out a couple of student loans in full in January.
  • The pain of having the credit card debt is probably still good for me. I know when it's paid off, it will be paid off for good.

On a side note, my grandmother has a severe case of alzheimers and we moved her into hospice care on Thursday. So, I will be coordinating with my Mom to get her services and arrangements in order. I will post more on that experience later but for now, we are just spending as much time with her as we can. Tell someone close to you today that you love them. =)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

It's My Birthday!!!

Today is my 33rd Birthday!!! I am so blessed!!!

My co-worker took me to lunch, my team lead took me to coffee and another co-worker bought me a lemon bar from Corner Bakery since I love them so much!!! Abundance flows.

I am on page 87/210 of Dave Ramsey's book and it's good so far. I am looking forward to pizza, cake and ice cream at my parent's house tonight. You're never too old for that. =)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Total Money Makeover...

Okay everyone...sorry for the lack of posting. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. =)

I got Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover and I started reading it today. I just got to a point where he said he convinced millions of people to change their lives - to have a total money makeover. Then he asked, "Are you Next?"

Yes I am!!!...Be back soon. =)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Personal Finance Resources...

So what if your favorite personal finance book that you recommend I read?

Over the next month, I will commit to reading 2-3 personal finance books, reviewing the works and developing a debt repayment plan.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Raise and Bonus...

We had a team meeting yesterday and we will be receiving raises and bonuses this year. I've been with the Bank since 2000 and I have always received a nice bonus. Come to think of it, I have also received some kind of increase each year too. I should get the numbers in December before I go on vacation for the last 2 weeks. I am really looking forward to the time off.

I have a new blog post over at Windy City Bliss. I am going through the 22 Law of Attraction Processes outlined in Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks. This process is unique because it's supposed to help improve your finances. I am going begin using the process on Monday and report on my progress. Fun!

Have a great day!!! =)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

New Blog and 2011

I am loving my new blog Windy City Bliss. Check me out. =)

I will be posting a new financial plan for 2011 soon. =)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

October 2010 Recap...

I am back to posting regularly here and over at Windy City Bliss. I am really enjoying the new blog and I have some exciting posts (at least I think they are) over there and I hope you enjoy them. =)

Here is my recap for October 2010. I am still doing my counseling sessions and I am happy to say that I am making a lot of progress. We are no longer exploring what happened in the past but we're moving on to what I want in the future and that includes dealing with my finances. We branched into that discussion last week and I am going to finally come up with a plan to get financially free. Fun and Exciting right?!?!

Here is the thing...what you're going to see in October, November and December is my savings account drop. Trust me...that is not the end of Chitown's world. Next year is going to be GREAT!!! I am so excited. Just read and watch. You will see improvement in every area of my life. =)

This chart is a lot to take in but it basically how I've done this year. This is the first time I really tracked in so much detail and I think it's helpful to get a glimpse of the 2010 picture. Basically, there hasn't been a lot of change in my net worth but my debt has gone down each month.

Here is the budget breakdown for October along with more detail below.

  • Part-time Job: It's gone. No more part-time job going forward.
  • Transportation: This will decreased going forward since I am no longer driving downtown for work.
  • Food & Dining/ Grocery: I did really good in this category for October. Only $15 over budget for both categories. (thumbs up)
  • Personal Care: I ordered more mixed chicks for my hair and bought a $40 Groupon for an hour long massage.
  • Clothing and Shopping: I purchased a few purses from Coach during the Labor Day sale, got some clothes dry cleaned instead of shopping for more clothes and purchased a phone charger and car accessory my iPhone.
  • Health & Medical: I got reimbursed $97 for my dental which will show up next month.

My credit scores are still improving as I continue to pay down debt. This new scoring system blows my mind when I think that an 802 credit score can actually be considered B credit when it used to be considered A credit. I am still really pleased that I have very high credit scores and that I am maintaining my commitment to pay everyone on time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'm Alive...

Hi Everyone!!!

Sorry for the lack of posts. This is a quarterly reporting month on the job and I am super busy these days. I will be posting a recap for October soon. I hope everyone is doing well. =)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tuesdays With Morrie...

My Sister gave me a book called "Tuesdays With Morrie" today so I am going to start reading it tonight. It's supposed to be inspirational. Have you read this book?

Also, don't forget to check out my new blog Windy City Bliss @ http://windycitybliss.blogspot.com/. I post there almost daily. =)

Law Firm Job Update...

Okay, I spoke to the Firm yesterday. The head of the Creditor's Rights Group called me and said Everyone Loved Me and they DO want me but they don't have enough work at the Firm to keep me busy right now. Additionally, they have a first-year associate that was hired and deferred for 6-months and he starts in January.

So, the Partner said they would love to have me when their workload picks up and hopefully I will still be at the Bank when that happens so they can bring me on board. I was certainly disappointed but at the same time, it wasn't exactly a NO. She personally said she would love to have me join the Firm but said I would just be twiddling my thumbs and unhappy, which isn't good for me or them and that I can agree with wholeheartedly.

So, I will remain with the Bank for the time being and as always, I remain truly appreciative that I actually really enjoy the work that I do and the people that I work with now. I am still so very blessed and that door to my law firm career opened up a little wider. Pretty soon, I will be walking straight through that door. Thanks so much for all of the support and encouragement. =)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Long Weekend

I really enjoyed the long weekend. After too many sleepless nights, I decided not to return to the part-time job so I enjoyed having time this weekend to relax and hang with family and friends.

I spoke to the head HR person on Friday and she personally apologized on behalf the store and that is enough for me. I am just ready to move in an entirely new direction -- the new law position. I should hear some news (good news) this week. I am going to definitely shoot the head recruiter an email tomorrow when I get back into the office to follow up.

I found a kiosk that sold a larger size of the Proactiv instead of a 30-day supply so I purchased that this month and it should last much longer. I also placed an order today for Mixed Chicks which is my hair product that you can only buy online. The hair products should last me until December so that's also good news. I won't need any major personal care purchases for a while.

All in all, I am hoping that I will end the year with a minimum of $7,500 in my savings account. Of course all that changes when/if I get the job offer to start this year. Cheers!!! =)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

September 2010 Recap...


Please check out my new blog...
http://windycitybliss.blogspot.com/.

Going forward, I will probably post there more often on a daily basis and use this blog strictly for my financial reporting and personal finance tid bits. My other blog is more of a journal format and will be a mixture of everything going on in my life including my finances. It will be just me trying to create a better life one moment at a time.

So check me out and watch me go from Singing the Blues to absolute Bliss. =)

Here is my financial recap for September 2010. I will be honest...I did not track my spending in September. I had so much going on in my personal life that I just didn't quite give a crap and a lot of cash went through my little fingers. I don't know where it all went and the madness did not stop right away so October won't be pretty either. I used my credit card and I am committed to paying it off in full each month and pulling whatever is necessary out of savings.

I will reiterate...The madness HAS stopped BUT...it only stopped last week.

So...here goes.

One word for the month...overspent!!! I don't have too much else to say. No word yet from the law firm and my last day at the part-time job will be October 16th if not sooner...I am thinking maybe Saturday...or Thursday...I am just done with the part-time job.




Monday, October 04, 2010

My New Blog...

I have a new blog titled " Windy City Blues to Windy City Bliss" and it is about using the law of attraction to make my life better in every way imaginable. It is an evolving process just like it was here at Windy City Blues but it's more of a journal format. I will concentrate just on my finances here and everything including my finances over there. Fun!!!

So check me out, read a little, leave a comment and visit often. Cheers!!!

http://windycitybliss.blogspot.com/

The Vortex

I am currently reading a book from Jerry and Esther Hicks called "The Vortex: Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative Relationships" and it is very powerful. I highly recommend it. The book is helping me unravel the mystery behind my most recent relationship.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Best Day...

I just had the best day hanging out with my Mom!!! I am so blessed. =)

We went grocery shopping, stopped at the mall, had lunch, dropped by the nursing home to visit my Granny and take her some pie (which she crushed) and then finally made it to the movies this evening to see The Town.

Perfect!!!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Leaving the Part-Time Job...

I made the decision to leave my part-time job. I gave my two weeks notice yesterday and my last day will be October 16th. I am so excited!!!

Why you ask? Well, I had a very unfortunate incident at work on Thursday night that left me very uncomfortable and angry. Simply put, I will always be treated with dignity and respect at all times. No exceptions. It's time to go.

Dating can be expensive. My last relationship was very expensive but you do a lot of things when you are in love. He paid and I paid but over the last year...I paid more. Additionally, staying in the city with him and then taking on this part-time job increased my transportation expenses $150-$200/month with gas and parking. When I am able to use my monthly train pass each month which is $130/month and just buy gas for my normal running around, I can cut my transportation expenses down to about $250/month. In September alone, my transportation expense was $400 and that was without the extra I would of paid if I was still dating. The money I will save will offset the loss income a bit.

With a law firm position, I won't need the extra job. I hope to hear from them next week.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Second Interview...

Hi All!!!

I just wanted to let you know that the second interview at the law firm last Friday went very well. I hope to hear something by next week. Work is moving along. We are coming up on quarterly reporting but I believe this will be my last reporting cycle here at the Bank so it's all good.

I have a completely free weekend and I am so excited!!! =)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A New Day...

Today is a new day. I am feeling much better today. Thank you all for your kind words, for sharing your own stories and for your support and encouragement.

Please know that I appreciative every single time someone takes a moment to leave a comment or just to come here and check on how things are going.

The monthly reporting cycle is now over. I got paid today from the Bank so I will be compiling the monthly recap for posting soon.

Have a terrific day. =)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Broken...

I feel so broken. There are NO words to describe just how hard it is for me to get out of bed this morning. My Heart is broken and what's worse, my spirit feels broken too. I take 2 steps forward and 5 steps back. I am so tired of being alone. I am so tired of feeling like I don't matter and that I was thrown away like trash. I want love. I want companionship. I want to be happy again. I don't know why it all went away and so quickly. I can barely catch my breath.

I can't stop the tears from falling...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Finances...

Ya'll...I cannot tell you where I am with my finances. For a few weeks in there...I just didn't care. I will regroup this weekend and see where I am. I even used my credit card which I know is a NO-NO!!!

I have a second interview on Friday with the Firm. They invited me back to meet with two more attorneys. That should be it in terms of interviews. I will keep you posted. =)

Lastly...my new Blog "Windy City Blues to Windy City Bliss" is under construction and coming along. I already have a few posts over there. I will post a link to it soon.

With Gratitude -- Chitown =)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Another Weekend...

Hello All!!! Sorry for the lack of posting. I've been on vacation and trying to catch up at work.

I am also starting a new blog called Windy City Blues to Windy City Bliss. I am a believer in the law of attraction so I am going to have more of a journal type of format over there and try to keep this blog just about my finances. I will post a link to the new blog as soon as I get it up and running. Eventually, I hope to bring this blog to a close once I achieve a positive new worth and focus on the other blog which will be a mix of everything going on in my life.

No news yet from the the law firm. I did email the Chairman and the Head of Diversity last week. I also emailed the Head Recruiter for the Chicago Office today. What I understand is that law firms move slow and I already filled out my background check papers. They very well could be completing their due diligence. I will let you know as soon as I hear something. I feel good about it.

Prior to my last post and realizing some destructive behaviors, I went on a bit of a shopping spree but I got it back under control. I also stopped tracking my expenses for the first two weeks in September but I think I was able to back into everything. We'll see.

Have a great weekend. =)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Family Issues...

My Uncle is missing.

He was in an accident on Monday night and taken to the hospital. The hospital released him but he hasn't been in contact with anyone since Monday night, hasn't returned home and is not answering his cell phone. Please say a prayer for him that he's okay. My parents filed a missing person report this morning.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

August 2010 Recap...


Here is my recap for August 2010. It was another decent month. Below is a more detailed breakdown. Budget categories I did better in were food & dining as well and groceries. I forsee entertainment going up a bit in the next few months as I deal with the breakup. I am out and about staying busy and spending more time with friends so I am not home feeling lonely.


My credit scores are still pretty good and strong. I will be happier once they are all over 800. That should be soon.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Day Off...

I got the day off!!! Yeah!!! Now, what to do with myself?!?!?! =)

Friday, September 03, 2010

Weekend...

Hello All!!!

Have a terrific holiday weekend. The Bank is letting us go early today at 3pm.

All my bills for September are already paid. =)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Interview Update and More…

The interviews yesterday went very well and I feel great about them. I interviewed with three partners and one associate. I believe I have now met everyone in the practice group especially since I have been networking with this firm for a while now. I hope to hear something within the next 2-3 weeks if not sooner.

I went right in there yesterday with confidence and was simply ME. They drilled me and I held my composure and didn’t break a sweat. It was actually kind of fun.

I have my first counseling session this afternoon through the EAP. I am really looking forward to getting some objective help on some of the issues I’ve been dealing with from someone who doesn’t know me. I am going to be brutally honest, let the walls come down and put it all on the table.

I already feel a lot better than I did a month ago. I am hoping that the sessions will reinforce that feeling so I can continue to move forward and not even think about looking back.

Lastly, I did send my BF (well I guess ex-boyfriend) a letter last week and I didn’t quite get the response I was hoping for. I was hoping for a call but got a text instead saying thank you. So, I give thanks as well because I put out there what I wanted and now I release it to be what it will be. I guess I was hoping that he would call and say… “yes Chitown, let’s really have that fresh start. Not let’s make things better, but let’s start over and create something new and something better.” That’s what I wanted. Now, I move forward. If he comes into my life then I think that's great but I will move forward with my heart and mind open to also meet someone new who wants me just as much as I want him….actually more. =)

With gratitude, Chitown. =)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Interview....

Happy Monday Everyone!!!

I have an interview at a firm on Wednesday. Please wish me well and keep me in your thoughts. The job means a nice six-figure salary and I will no longer have to work two jobs. I put off posting it here because I wanted to tell my family and friends first but I couldn't wait to share the news. I already have employment forms to fill out and my Mom is picking up my suit from the dry cleaners today.

This is also the firm where I decided to travel out of town for the charity networking event a few weeks ago. I hope the investment pans out.

I have to work tonight at Macys. I really appreciate the job but I look forward to having just one job that is both challenging and fulfilling. The schedule got posted on Friday that I was working not just the 4th Saturday in a row but also Saturday and Sunday next weekend, which is the second holiday in a row. I called the counter manager on Sunday and asked her about the rotation and also told her I was getting burned out. In 33 days, I would of only had 2 days off from working in some capacity at the Bank or at the Part-time job...it is too much. Plus, some weeks they have me on for more than 12 hours...more like 20. While I appreciate the extra money, it comes with its own cost. I am finding that I am not willing to pay that cost for too much longer.

So, please keep me in your prayers that I get this position. It's a great firm and I already met some really nice people there just through networking. Plus, the firm is still downtown so I can keep up with my Bank colleagues that I will surely miss.

P.S. I ended up in the Black again for August!!! More to come soon. =)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekend...

Wishing you all a very good weekend.

I have some wonderful things on the horizon. Can't wait to share with you. In the meantime, I only have to work on Saturday so I will definitely find something to get into this weekend.

Cheers!!! =)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Credit Card...

My CC balance will be under $20,000 next month. I am so excited!!! =)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Weekend and Weekly Status Report...

I had a good weekend. My friend came down with the stomach flu so we didn't get a chance to go out for drinks on Friday night. I think it was for the best since I had to be back at work by 8:30 the next morning. I was supposed to go to a birthday party on Saturday night but I ended up visiting my parents, playing with my nephew and watching the Chicago Bears game. It was perfect in my eyes. =)

Sunday was also cool. I was going to get up and hit the gym but my best friend needed someone to lean on and I was right there. We hung out and I hope I lifted her spirits a bit. She’ll be okay. She is a wonderful person. I took her over to my parent’s house and my fmaily just has a way of making any day just a little brighter. After we drove back to her house, I got my car and then went to visit my Grandmother in the nursing home. She even let my Mom take her outside after eating dinner. I was glad that she also decided to go to the cafeteria with all of the other residents when we were leaving so she wasn’t left alone in her room.

My Mom cooked dinner and my entire family came over and it was just…LOVE. I am so thankful. =)

Here is my progress report and I am still in the black. One more week in the reporting period and I get paid on Friday from the part-time job. I worked a little over 20 hours last week so it should be a decent payday.

Wishing you a wonderful day!!! In gratitude – Chitown




Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Truth Today...

Well, I put off coming here to tell you guys because I wanted a different outcome. However, it is my truth today so here it is...Chitown is Single once again. Yes, the BF and I broke up again a few weeks ago. The dust is still settling from his hasty departure from my life.

I choose not to have anything but love in my heart for him because I wish him the very best. I also choose to be thankful for every single moment I got to spend with him. He was my friend, my heart and companion. I do miss him but every day is better than the day before.

I have the uncanny ability to love unconditionally. I have found that I go out of my way for people and I love them with all of my heart and I am extremely loyal. I will go through the fire for the people I care about and I am used to being the "go to" person who takes care of everyone and everything.

Unfortunately, the people who claim to love me fall short in reciprocating that love, patience and attention to taking care of me in the same regard. So, I am taking care of me now and putting me first. I pray that I will one day have unconditional love and the kind of love that sticks, commits and shows up in good and tough times...A partner in this journey we call life.

Unconditional Love: Once upon a time, there was a person who said they would love you forever. Their love moved on, but your love stayed in the same place. Consider the opportunity to love the greatest of all blessings, even when love doesn't go your way. The love you give is the love you get, and it is all good no matter where love takes you. Let the ability to love another belong to you forever and ever because real love stories never end. - Philosophy

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Financial Update...

My mortgage payment is going up $100 starting next month for property taxes so it's back to the drawing board with the budget.

I found a discounted parking garage directly across from the part-time job for $12.00/day. It's just like the garage I park in now and will be a much safer option at night. Great!!! I wish I had someone willing to pick me up once or twice a week and bring me home. Then I wouldn't need to drive downtown or pay for parking. Maybe soon.

I get paid $139 on Friday from the part-time job, bringing my total part-time income for the month to $486. I will earn about ~ $200 this week and get paid the last Friday of the month on the 27th. Since I get paid from my banking position on the 30th, I will probably put the entire $200 into savings or split it and put $100 towards my credit card and $100 into savings.

I have to work tonight, Friday night and Saturday. No biggie. I may go out for drinks with a friend on Friday night and then I am done on Saturday at 4:30pm. Weather permitting, I may walk over to Navy Pier and the Lake to hang out. I haven't been there in a couple of years.

I may try to get in a round of golf on Sunday and see if my Sister wants to take my 17-month old nephew to the Acquarium. I really can't wait to have a husband and start a family of my own. I stopped by my parent's house last night on a whim and ended up playing with my nephew for about 2 hours. The little guy just brings so much joy and love into my life. I have so much love to give so I look forward to when my day will come. In the meantime, I will hug, kiss and tickle my nephew and watch him grow into a wonderful person.

Have a great day!!! With gratitude - Chitown =)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Philosophy: Amazing Grace

All is better in my world. I am enjoying falling in love with ME all over again. I feel stronger, more confident and proud. I am so thankful for God's Grace and the Grace that my family and friends show me every day to push me to be the best woman I can possibly be. =)

Life is a classroom and we are both student and teacher. Each day is a test and each day we receive a passing or a failing grade in one particular subject: Grace. Grace is compassion, gratitude, surrender, faith, forgiveness, good manners, tolerance, and the list goes on and on. It’s something money can’t buy and credentials rarely produce. Being the smartest, the prettiest, the most talented, the richest, or even the poorest, can’t help. Being a humble person can and being a helpful person can guide you through your days with grace and gratitude. - Philosophy

With Love…Chitown. =)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekly Status Report...



Not much to say. Halfway through the month and so far so good. =)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Networking Trip...

I am having a great time in Wisconsin for this networking event. I played my best round of golf yet and had so much fun in the sun. After the golf luncheon, I went to thank the Chairman and he asked if I was able to meet the Partner in his firm that was in my foursome. Come to find out, this Partner is on the hiring and executive committee. I got along well with him and all of my team. I was probably the second best golfer too in our foursome. Thumbs up!!!

I feel like a lightbulb started to go off in my head when I took the day off on Tuesday. It really went off on Wednesday morning after I had a long and serious talk with a friend. I am going to be just fine, I have so much to offer and I am can add so much to this world and my relationships than any shortcomings I can perceive that I have. I mean come on....I'm Chitown. I am one bad chick!!! =)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just Me...

Hi Everyone!!!

I took off from work yesterday because I felt like my world was crumbling down around me. For a little over a year, things have been spiraling out of control for me and I am having issues with my family, my relationship, my health, my employment situation and of course my finances. I decided to get some help and counseling to figure it all out and I am finally excited about my future and what lies ahead. I have a pretty good support group around me and of course it can only get bigger if I allow my walls to come down, relax and open up a bit. Strange that I can come here and put my finances on blast but I don't do that anywhere else in my life. Of course this blog is anonymous so there is some sense of security and privacy.

I am going through the Employee Assistance Program here at work and the help and everything is confidential. I am bit of a late bloomer but I know that I am going to be stronger, more successful and even more beautiful on the inside and out very soon. So watch out...Chitown is turning a corner and moving in a better direction. =)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Weekly Status Report...

I had a good weekend. I met up with some friends on Friday night for drinks. I played two softball games on Saturday and took a pretty hard hit during the game. Somehow, I managed to peel myself off the ground and keep going. I did however develop a massive headache later that night which made the comedy show pretty unbearable. My friend and I left early and I got to bed just before midnight.

Sunday was cool. I got some sleep. My sister and brother in law passed on the water park since it looked like it was going to rain. So, I went with my Mom to see my Grandmother in the nursing home instead. She isn't doing so great. She is very combative and can barely stand on her own anymore. A couple of weeks ago, she was rushed to the hospital when she fell and hit her head. So, the nursing home is taking some extra precautions to keep her from falling again. Alzheimers is just a very sad disease and while I know my Mom wishes she could care for her, she needs 24-hour care. After dinner, my Dad and I got in 9 holes of golf last night which was pretty fun and a great way to wrap up the weekend.

I have to work late tonight and Wednesday. I also have to work all weekend. I need to find the discounted parking garage closer to the part-time job because it's getting dark earlier here in Chicago. It will be safer for me to find a closer parking garage so that I am not walking across downtown late at night by myself.

Here is my progress report for August. Have a wonderful day. =)

Friday, August 06, 2010

July Recap and Weekend Plans...

My July recap is below. Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately...been going through some stuff. Finally finished my quarterly reporting at work on Tuesday so I feel like I can breathe a little easier.

I am a little ticked off with my part-time job. I got there yesterday thinking I had the weekend off to find out I may have to work on Sunday. The counter manager said that the official schedule didn't make sense because it had too much overlap. I should have stood up right then and there and told her I couldn't work on Sunday. I was already fine with the schedule for the week. I called the top manager and told her I needed Thursday and Friday off a couple of weeks ago since I am traveling out of state for a networking opportunity. She put me on for Monday and Wednesday evening and Saturday which was just fine by me. I was actually planning to go to Indiana with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew to a water park I've been wanting to go to for years. They said this wouldn't happen again so I think I am going to call her and tell her that I already had family plans that can't be broken. The schedule I already had gave me 11 hours and that is just fine with me. They can work on the overlap issues going forward. Yes...I am going to call as soon as I finish this post. Gotta start standing up for myself more!!!

Anyway....What are your weekend plans?

I already mentioned the water park on Sunday. Tonight I am supposed to meet up with two of my friends for drinks after work. I have a softball game on Saturday and then I am going to a comedy show on Saturday night with another friend. Should be a fun weekend...provided I don't have to work on Sunday.

Be safe and have a wonderful weekend. Don't forget...July's recap is below. =)

*** Update: I called and I don't have to work on Sunday!!! Yeah!!!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

July 2010 Recap...


See the change in my cash balance? Well I realized that I inflated my cash balances by including my monthly paycheck. Since pretty much the entire thing goes to pay bills, I decided not to include it going forward.

Debt levels are slowly but surely going down. Everything was paid and paid on time. I cannot wait to see the credit card balance gone...maybe early next year. Chase asks me for $425 but I make sure that I pay the accrued interest and $400 towards principal each month. I am going to try to make it $500 in August. Wish me luck!!!



***A further budget breakdown is below.

This is the first month I stayed within budget....probably since I started working 10 years ago. The part-time helped out a lot. I made a few adjustments in July. For starters, I decided to pay for my transporation costs including parking, train and gas with my credit card so I can better budget that category each month. Secondly, beginning in August, I started to save each month for my quarterly water bill and my annual home insurance so that I don't have to pay the lump sums I had to pay in July. Those expenses can be budget busters for sure (see below).



My credit scores are great and steadily improving. They have never been this high before so I know I am moving in the right direction. My goal is to continue to pay everything and everyone on time, to keep improving my credit ratios, to improve my spending habits, pay down debt and learn to balance living and financial responsibility.

Not a bad month Chitown!!! =)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Weekend Plans...

The weekend is here again. What are your plans?

I have to work late today since I am working both jobs. I have to work the part-time job tomorrow and then I am traveling to Indiana on Sunday with my parents and sister for our annual family reunion. It's going to be a busy weekend. =)

I got paid yesterday from my full-time job and $104 today from the part-time job. All my bills for August are already paid. =)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No Spend Month...

What is a no spend month? I will already tell you...I won't make it a month without spending any money so I just want to clarify. Thanks.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekly Status Report....


Here is my last weekly status report for the July reporting period which ends on Wednesday. I think I will end the month $100 in the black.

I did go grocery shopping on Friday to get items like soap, toothbrushes, ramen noodles, frozen tilapia, water and dishwashing solution. I buy most things in bulk from Sam's Club so I won't need these staple items again for many months.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Weekend Plans...

This week flew by and I am looking forward to another weekend off.

I get paid $104 tomorrow from the part-time job so that will bring my part-time income for the month to a total of $451. Not shabby. =)

I don't have any plans yet for Friday night. I have a softball game early Saturday afternoon and we are golfing 9 holes on Sunday morning. My Dad paid for the golf outing a month ago but we got rained out so we got a 30-day raincheck. I am hoping to go and see the movie "SALT" on Saturday. It looks like it's going to be pretty good. Hopefully we can catch a matinee. I also have a Groupon worth $35 at a Columbian Steakhouse so the BF and I will probably do dinner and a movie on Saturday. I am hoping to have at least one date night each month if possible. I think my Mom is going to cook on Sunday so we'll probably join my parents for Sunday dinner.

I am going to an out of state charity networking event next month. I can drive but I will have to pay for fuel and a hotel room for two nights. I was invited by the head of a firm that I would like to join so I think it's a terrific opportunity. I think I found a hotel today for $59/night so it is going to cost me ~ $200 max with taxes, fuel and any meals.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No Spend Day...

Yesterday was a No Spend Day!!!

I have to work just Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week at the part-time job. I have another weekend off. =)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekly Status Report...


I had a great weekend.

I went to visit my grandmother on Friday at the nursing home and then I went home and watched the season finale of Grey's Anatomy on my DVR...OMG...great episode!!!

I played two softball games on Saturday and then went to a picnic for the BF's family reunion weekend. Sunday was Church service and a brunch with his family as well. The brunch was at a relative's home in Kenwood which is a rather mixed cutural upper crust area of the South Side. Obama's house was only a few blocks away. Anyway, the house actually had a banquet area in the back of it...amazing!!! The art on the walls was just beautiful. I had a great time. I finished Sunday up with a pedicure and a visit and dinner with my parents. =)

Here is my progress report for the month so far. The monthly reporting period ends next Wednesday on July 28th since I finally get paid again on the 29th from my full-time job. I also get paid one more time this reporting month on Friday for my part-time job. That should be another $100 and it's looking pretty good for the budget this month.

I don't anticipate or plan any additional personal care but I do have a doctor's appointment next week so that will be a $30 copay added to miscellaneous.

You will notice that transportation costs are low this month. I decided to have them charged monthly to my credit card along with my utilities so I know each month the exact expense for budgeting.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Weekend Plans...

What are your weekend plans?

I don't have any plans for Friday evening. I may have to stay home and do some work for the Bank along with a little laundry and cleaning up. I have two softball games on Saturday so I should be nice and tired by the evening. I wouldn't mind picking up 9 holes of golf on Sunday morning. We can golf just 9 holes relatively cheap for $20 with a cart in some places. Then the BF has a dinner for his family reunion going on this weekend on Sunday night. That's about it.

I got paid today from the part-time job....$190...Yeah!!! I got holiday pay for the 4th of July. Since I am a VP, I only get paid once a month at my Banking job. I like getting paid once a week from the part-time gig and having some income come through during the month. I think this will be the first month since I probably started working that I will actually stay within budget. This will be no small feat.

I took out $40 for the weekend and I am hoping to make it last. =)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Wednesday…

We are halfway through the work week. Yeah!!! I know I should feel the same way I do about Monday that I do about Friday, but these days I live for the weekends and some time to breathe. What’s so special about this weekend you might ask?!?! I don’t have to work!!! Yes, it is my first weekend off since I started working my part-time job about a month ago. I did ask the manager and she said she tries to give everyone at least one weekend off each month. I am actually off next weekend too. I think my schedule was just crazy for those two weeks because they really needed the help. A wonderful trade off is that they actually gave me time and a half for working the July 4th holiday so my paycheck on Friday is going to be higher than expected. Go Chitown!!!

I took a family friend out for lunch yesterday. She is 24 and moved here to Chicago to take the IL bar exam. She is such a sweet girl. My Dad asked me to reach out to her and make sure she’s okay and if she needs anything. She actually found me on Facebook. She is also still looking for a law job post taking the bar and a lot of her classmates are as well. It’s a tough market right now but I hope it loosens up soon. I think we’ll be good friends down the line. The lunch cost me more than I hoped at $60 including tip but I took the CTA train instead of jumping in a taxi and that saved me about $15. I work in the South Loop and the restaurant was in the North Loop on the Magnificent Mile. It cost about $10 each way with tip for a taxi ride depending on the time of day and traffic. Lunch time and rush hour are always a mess.

Needless to say, I am going to be over budget on Food & Dining but I am still doing pretty good for the most part this month. My hours are down with the part-time job over the two weeks. I just work 9 hours this week and next week but then I am back to 12 hours the last week in July.

So far, So good. =)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Status Report & Interview Update…

Happy Monday!!!

I am exhausted right now and I don’t know why at all. I got a decent amount of sleep last night too. It must be my diet which has consisted a lot of McDonalds over the past few weeks. The dollar menu is my friend.

The interview this morning went pretty good. I spoke to the recruiter afterwards and he said I was up against some pretty tough competition for the job with gentlemen that have 10+ years of experience in Loan Workout. I only have 2 years but he felt like my law degree and 10 years of Banking experience were a plus on my side so we’ll see.

He and I also spoke briefly about being more proactive in terms of looking for other workout positions. His company works with a lot of mid to large banks so he said he would be more than willing to help me in my efforts to find another position elsewhere if this particular position failed to work out. I should know something by the end of the week or early next week.

Below is my status report for July. I decided to use my budget for the rest of 2010 instead of adjusting it for one-off expenses like my annual home insurance premium and quarterly water bill that were due this month. I plan to save/accrue monthly going forward for these committed expenses.



Utilities: Going forward I will accrue $40/month for my quarterly water bill. It usually ranges between $100-$110/quarter although it was low at $92 this time around.

Transportation: This committed expense will now be charged to my rewards credit card monthly along with utilities.

Miscellaneous: My annual premium this year for my home insurance was $220. Going forward, I will save/accrue $20/month in a savings account to pay this annual expense. It is lumped in miscellaneous this month. I also have to pay $50 this month for my annual family reunion dues. I will write that check out this week and mail it off.

I worked a lot last week with the holiday so I expect to earn another ~$150 direct deposit this week from my part-time job. So far, so good.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Weekend Plans & Interview...

Weekend Plans:

What are your weekend plans? I don't have any immediate plans. I only have to work at the part-time gig on Saturday from 2:30-8:30pm. The rest of the weekend is free. Thank goodness. =)

Interview:

I have an initial interview on Monday morning with another bank doing the same thing I do now in loan workout. I think the job could have good salary potential in the $90k-$100k range but it's at a smaller community bank. Unless you've been under a rock, there is always danger and risk with banks in the current economic environment. My current employer is one of the most stable banks in Chicago. While I love the company and I like the work and my coworkers a great deal, my superiors refuse to bring my salary up to market. I'm still cheap labor.

I've spent my entire career with one company...it may be time for change.

*** On a side note, I got paid $155 today from the part-time job.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

June 2010 Recap...


Well I was able to put together a recap for June after all. There was minimal impact to my net worth but like so many of you know, I am not good at staying on budget. I dipped even further into my savings to make it all work. I hope this part-time job will make me appreciate the mighty dollar and how hard I have to work to earn it so that I am more conscious about my spending.


The chart above shows how I did in comparison to my actual budget. I blew it. Below is a further breakdown of the expenses. All of my student loans are now in repayment. I will need to make further adjustments to account for the higher student loan payment amount. Hence...the part-time job. I am looking now at how I can cut committed expenses.

I put off dry cleaning for 3 months and couldn't do it again. I know I need to go to the cleaners when I start saying I don't have any clothes and think about online shopping.

The Memorial Day cookout took me for a large lump sum and started the month on the wrong foot. I won't be having anymore gatherings at my house for some time to come.

This was a big month for personal care products. I am wearing my hair natural in an effort to curtail my hair care expense when I was going to the salon once a week, to every other week, to every four weeks to now every eight weeks. I still have to buy the products which are relatively expensive but my hair is no longer falling out and I actually get a lot of compliments. I will need to buy some proactiv again in July but I won't need any hair care products until August. Even then, I won't need to purchase all of the products (i.e. shampoo, deep conditioner and leave-in conditioner). I will just need the leave-in-conditioner. If anyone is looking for good products for naturally curly hair...Mixed Chicks is wonderful. The website is http://www.mixedchicks.net/.

My credit scores are steadily climbing in the right direction. I know some of my classmates that only make payments on their student loans when they can. I am trying to ensure that I am always able to meet my monthly debt obligations. Once I get my spending and debt payments under control, the next goal will be to work on getting back to saving for retirement.

As a side note, I am no longer just looking for legal job opportunities, I am also pursuing other Banking opportunities and I am going to refocus on getting my own practice in real estate and family law up and running. So, I will be spending whatever free time I have getting back up to speed in those areas of the law, working on my business website and putting plans into action.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Progress Report...


I survived working the entire July 4th weekend at my part-time gig. Thankfully, I work full-time at a Bank so I had Monday off to recuperate. The Chicago weather even cooperated. It was beautiful yesterday when the forecast was calling for thunderstorms. =)

Here is my progress report for July. I am putting together a monthly recap for June after all. I will post it in a few days.

One thing I am noticing now that I am working two jobs is that I don’t have the time to spend as much money as I was spending. On the other hand, I did not participate in the bring your lunch to work challenge because I wasn’t home enough. Since I have to work some nights during the week and weekend, I am splitting my time between my house in the Suburbs and my BF’s house in the City since he’s much closer to downtown. So if I buy groceries and don’t go home, they’re not much use to me. I did go to Aldi yesterday to buy bagels and cream cheese along with chicken salad and crackers to keep in the fridge at work. Now, I won’t go over to Starbucks each morning and get an iced tea with a cheese bagel….that was costing $5 every morning.

I decided to have my transportation charged to my credit card like I do with my services from AT&T so I will know each month my transportation costs. I am getting close to having enough reward points to get a $25 statement credit or $25 rewards check.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Update…

The days are long. I am tired. I don’t like working the second job at all. We are getting let go early today at 3pm at the Bank for the holiday weekend but I have to stick around downtown because I have to work from 5-8pm tonight at my part-time job. I also have to work from 1-7pm on Saturday and then I have to work on Sunday, the 4th of July, from 11-6. They changed my schedule abruptly on Monday.

This is some BS!!! I don’t really care what anyone says….I don’t think the extra money is worth not having any time to myself and time to spend with my family and friends. I am so disenchanted with just about everything right now and how all of this crap turned out. Four freaking years of law school (part-time evening I might add), a licensed attorney and I can barely afford the loan payments. I am a lawyer and I have to slave all day at the full-time gig and then go stand on my feet all night and all weekend for $10.75/hour.

I am not happy…period.

Friday, June 25, 2010

$80 Challenge Update...

It's going to be hard for me to make it on $80/week. I am not saying it is impossible people...just hard. I think I can do $100/week. I am at $124 so far and I will track through Saturday. Here is the breakdown.

Food & Dining: $91
Personal Care: $23
Grocery & Household: $10

July Goals and Budget…


I get paid next Tuesday for July. Below is my budget. It's going to be super tight for the month and you will see that the part-time job came just in time.


Goals:

Bring my lunch 3 times a week.
Call State Farm to increase my car deductible from $250 to $500.
Workout 3 times a week.


Expense Breakdown/Explanation:

Utilities:
Includes Cable, Cell Phone, House Phone, Internet, Home Security andGym Membership. At&t, the security company and LA Fitness automatically charge my credit card each month so I have been lumping the $45 gym membership into this category. The budgeted amount this month also includes my Quarterly Water Bill. Going forward, I will accrue or escrow $40 in a seperate account for this bill on a monthly basis.

Transportation: Transportation includes the train, 10 parking passes, gas/fuel and parking lot fees at the train. I work downtown about 45 minutes from home on the train and about an hour drive in the car. I attend after work events and now I have the part-time job. After 6:30, the train runs every hour and makes every flag stop so the commute can be in excess of an hour on the train. Since my schedule at my part-time job ends at 8:15 during the week, I don't have time to catch the 8:20 train and would have to wait an hour for the next train at 9:20pm only to get home after 10:30pm at night. I cannot do this for two several reasons. 1) It is not safe for me to ride the train that late at night by myself, 2) it is not safe for me to walk to my my car in the parking lot that late at night, and 3) I would be dead tired for the next day at work since it's already a long day working two jobs. By driving, I get home by 9pm. I am on the schedule 2-3 times a week in the evening so I am now purchasing ten discounted passes at $125/month instead of every other month.

Business: I worked a couple of years ago for an attorney downtown doing part-time legal work. She suggested that I set up a company to track my revenue and expenses related to the work that I performed. So, I still have to pay for my professional liability insurance ($106), business website/email ($40/quarter) and efax service ($12/month). I also pay my professional membership fees through the company. Since I am open to performing additional work, I continue to keep the efax service ($12/month) and the business email ($40/quarter) since it's tied to a domain should I ever decide to put up a website. The benefit is that I get to write off those expenses which also boosts my tax return each year. I also charged that CLE writing class and the annual filing report so the excess of the $200/month after the monthly expenses goes to reduce the balance on my business credit card. The class was $600 and the annual filing fee was $250 so the balance on the card is $900 right now. I am chipping away at the balance and I hope some business comes my way which will allow me to pay it off in full.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bring Your Lunch Challenge...

Okay...who wants to participate with me in a Bring Your Lunch to Work Challenge next week?

I also am soliciting lunch ideas before I go grocery shopping this weekend. =)

$80 Challenge....

I am not doing too good with my $80 challenge. I just started yesterday and as of right now, I am at $35. If I counted the $25 Father's Day gift from Sunday, then my total would be $60 (ouch!!!).
  1. I got bit by some awful mosquitos on Sunday. The bites are horrible and itchy. I took Zyrtec, bought Bennadryl cream (didn't work) and then I had to buy some Hyrdocortizone cream today after I went to the pharmacist looking for any help. I also called my doctor just in case. I have over 15 bites on my legs and no matter how much I scratch (I know I am not supposed to), they itch worse. I hope this hyrocortizone cream helps but both creams hit me for $10.
  2. I don't have any ready to go groceries at home like sandwich meat, bread, etc. Everything that I have in the house requries cooking a meal and I haven't been home since Wednesday of last week for more than just time to sleep. I know I need to buy some groceries but I hate going into the grocery store since I spend so much moola. I am going to wait until next week so that I can participate in the Bring My Lunch Challenge. =)

So...$45 left. The challenge goes through Saturday and begins again on Sunday.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Allowance…

Do any of you use the allowance system? Do you allow a certain amount of money per week? I am thinking about trying this method and allowing myself $80/week or $320/month to start and see how it goes. In a perfect world, I would like $200/week or $800/month. I am going to try this out for a week and see how I do. I am going to take out $80 in cash and try to make it last through Sunday. Wish me luck!!!

On a side note…

My boyfriend stepped up for me big time this weekend! He knows money is tight and he finally received his tax return. Not only did he take me out to dinner and a show on Thursday to see the Conan O’Brien writers, he also purchased joint gifts for his Stepfather, my Dad and my Brother-in-Law for Father’s Day. I only had to spend $25 for a gift card to the local golf course for my Dad. I am so thankful!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Starting Fresh….


I am starting fresh next month. I did not track all of my spending this month which is why you haven’t seen any of my fancy little charts. I still think I will be able to put together a monthly recap.

Below is my budget based on my new part-time job. July will be a little different since I have to pay my annual home insurance premium and quarterly water bill. The budget above factors in an accrued amount for that going forward so I won't get hit with it all at once. With 12 hours per week, I should net approximately $400/month. I also think I have some ability to pick up additional hours but I don’t want to burn out too quickly. I am coming up on reporting month at work and we usually already work a least 50 hours per week.

I am going to focus again on bringing my lunch and/or keeping purchased meals under $10/day. I keep realizing that buying groceries is not relating to any reduction in dining expenses so I am going to minimize grocery/household shopping to pretty much just necessities.

I built in higher transportation. I assumed the need to purchase 10 discounted parking passes each month since I will be working until 9pm-10pm some nights at the part-time job.

Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

Manicure…

My Sister introduced me to something called a No Chip Manicure from OPI. I tried it once and cannot wait until I am able to regularly pay for this luxury. Manicured nails for up to 2 weeks would just be wonderful. I looked at the chipped polish on my nails and thought briefly about going today to get one. Then I calculated how many hours I would have to work to pay for it and decided against it. I just grabbed the nail polish remover that I keep in my desk drawer, walked to the bathroom and took off my polish. I will probably paint them later myself.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Part-time Job & Roommate Update…

Well, I started the part-time job yesterday. I went in for all day training on the company, sales training and of course they trained us on the register. There were two new full-time associates, four new part-time associates and one new on-call associate in the training. They were all really nice people with their own tale of how they came to join the company. All in all, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity. The new position will add about $300-$400 per month to my cash flow after taxes. This job is a blessing to supplement my income and help me stay within budget.

I am still pursuing the roommate angle but there are no new developments. If I am able to get a roommate then that income will go directly towards debt repayment.

The woman who came to look at my place on Saturday loved it but was looking for a place with more light (I have western exposure). Also, since I only have one garage space, she would be giving up her current garage space where she is renting now. I cannot do anything about the western exposure and lack of morning sunlight but I do get a nice amount of afternoon sunlight. Unfortunately she came on a day when it was gloomy and storming. I told her that she is more than welcome to use my garage space when I am not home which is 2-3 times per week. Her concern is shoveling show at 4:30 in the morning when she heads to work. I cannot blame her since it was also my concern as a single woman. I moved there specifically because it was the only condo complex with an attached garage and it’s an extremely rare find.

So that’s it for now.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quick Update....

I got the position with Macys but it's a part-time position instead of the on call position and it's at one of the vendors. I will be working about 12 hours a week on weeknights and weekends. They're starting me out at $10.75/hour with 3% commission. I took it and will probably go for training next Tuesday.

Second, I got an inquiry on my listing with the roommate site. The woman and I exchanged a few emails and she may come to see my place on Saturday.

That's about it. Have a great weekend. Go Blackhawks!!! :-)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Condo Value…

Please see my net worth chart to the right. I decided to revalue my condo at cost. There are two 3bd/2ba units on the market in my complex for $139,900.

I purchased my condo for $130,000 in 2003. It appraised for $165,000 in November 2008 but due to market conditions as well as a limited market for conventional financing since my complex is not FHA approved, I suspected the value would decline.

I think the conservative value is best. At least I am not underwater after the refinance.

Spending Report...

Happy Friday!!! I could scream and jump up and down because I am so glad it's Friday.

I lost my monthly metra train pass and it’s only the 4th of June!!! That sucker costs $130 so I am going to go home and search every inch of my condo and my car. Ugh!!!

My grandmother is in the hospital for the next 3 days for psych evaluation. She was basically kicked out of the nursing home last night. She was staying there for a week in respa care to give my mom a much needed break. Who knew alzheimers could be so nasty and turn a gentle person into the meanest person?!?! They definitely don’t show that side of alzheimers on television so I feel like I was duped. I thought she would just forget everyone and draw, paint or just stare and watch television for the rest of her days. Not the screaming and hollering that she does all day long. Goodness!!!

Anyway…I was at the hospital for several hours last night with my mom, dad and sister. This trip to the hospital may expedite her placement into a home. People…LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE!!! I don’t know all the nuances about the insurance but I sure wish my grandmother had it so that we had more flexibility in choosing the facility or even the possibility of keeping her at home with a full-time caretaker.

On to the next…here is my spending report and budget for June.

I had a cookout for Memorial Day. I originally planned to share the expense with my boyfriend but he hit a bad bump over railroad tracks that caused major damage to his car over the weekend. It cost him almost $1,000. Needless to say, he couldn’t share in the expense as planned.

This is also the first month that I am actually trying to budget in a draw from my savings. My parents offered to help and give me $300/month. We’ll see. My Dad actually came to the cookout and everything. He had a good time.

I don't have anything planned for the rest of the month other than Father's Day. There is a golf course nearby that is offering dinner, two rounds of golf and a bucket of balls at the range for $75. Coincidentally, this is also the golf course where my friend had her wedding a few weeks ago. This Father's Day deal may be my Dad's father's day gift since he likes the course. My sister may get it for my brother-in-law so we may just split the cost and get them both the same thing and spend $75 instead of $50/person. They love to golf together so it's perfect.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Stock Sale...

I sold ~ 22 shares of company stock in my ESPP. It should net me approximately $1,300 to help replenish my efund. I just did standard mail so I should get a check in about a week. I didn't liquidate my Sharebuilder Account. It is still valued around $250.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Interview for Part-time Job…

I had the interview with Macy’s yesterday. The position was an “on call” position in small fragrances. I will tell you what I told my reader Aaren. The position is not suited for me and I am not suited for the position. BUT…I didn’t turn it down. I will find out one way or the other next week. First, they would like someone with more flexibility so that if a full-time or part-time worker calls off, they can call you and ask you to work. You never know when they will call so there is no guaranteed money or schedule involved. Second, I don’t like perfume. It gives me a headache. I am the woman who says no thanks and holds my breath through the perfume section. I don’t take any samples and I happily go to Bath & Body and buy the fruity splashes. Cheaper and no headaches.

There were about four other women who looked like they were there to interview for the same position. They also looked like they didn’t have an office to go back to like I did, so an on call position or any position would be great. I realized how grateful I am for my full-time salaried position (with benefits). I may be underpaid and underemployed but I am still gainfully employed nonetheless.

I sabotaged myself in May. No doubt. I try too hard to please people and I end up with the shorter end of the stick. I know this has to stop but I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that I AM making progress. I am paying all of my bills on time and my debt is going down. I also have excellent credit scores so I am not shirking my responsibilities.

I work hard and sometimes I play too hard. Some people think this blog is about being frugal but it about financial independence and finding the balance on the road to financial freedom. Therefore, when I achieve it, I won’t ever retreat back into financial despair. Let’s be honest, I am 32 years old and it is going to take me 10+ years to pay all of these loans off short of a miracle. I am NOT going to sacrifice everything for the next 10+ years of my life and not live in the process. That may be for some people but that is not for me.

I have cut back on some things and I am looking for ways to eat and entertain for less. I subscribed to Groupon and another service. I bought two Groupons so far that are good for a year. The one Groupon cost me $20 and it includes 2 rounds of bowling and shoes for 4 people. The second Groupon cost me $30 and it is good for food and drinks worth $75 at one of my favorite restaurants. I included the amounts in my current expenses but I still have the Groupons for future dining/entertainment. Again, finding the balance between what I want and what I can afford.

I blew it in May. I make no excuses. I have to admit that some of the comments made me wince and for a while and I was discouraged to blog but I am going to get back on the financial wagon. I know I deserved some of the comments so I hope you’re still there along the road to support me. Thanks for all of your comments and encouragement.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

May 2010 Racap...


















Here is my recap for May. I am not going into a lot of detail. It was just bad.

My Emergency Fund is gone and it was not all spent on true Emergencies.

I bought 10 more parking passes in May. They reduced the price from $18.75/pass to $12.50/pass. Finally, a break.

Miscellaneous spending was the budget breaker. Below is complete detail.















Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vacation...

I am on vacation this week from work. I am not traveling anywhere but I just needed a break from the office. My internet at home was down and the AT&T tech just left and got me back online. Thank goodness. I forgot how attached I am to the computer and the internet.

I am going to try to stay off my computer as much as possible this week to really get a break. I will be posting my May Recap soon and I am bracing for the storm. =)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chitown is Alive…

Hi everyone! I am still alive and kicking. The month of May has taken a toll on me emotionally and financially. I am looking forward to taking next week off for vacation.

I stopped by my parent’s home last night and my grandmother was having a terrible day. For those that do not know, my grandmother has a severe case of Alzheimers. She’s lived with my parents for 20 years and has declined rapidly since November of last year. I need to help my mother look into assisted living for her next week. The cost for alzheimers care is expensive and of course, she did not have long-term care insurance.

I am wrapping up the month of May and I am dreading my monthly recap. I think my net worth will be down about $2,000 with market losses as well.

All of my student loans are now in repayment. I faxed in the request to put the new federal loans on an interest only payment plan for the next 2 years. They have yet to process the request so the new payment amount is not reflected on the system. As soon as I know the amount, I will be able to budget for June and the remainder of the year.

I have an informal interview on June 1st for a position with Macys on State Street. The position of for cosmetic sales, beauty advisor, on call. I am not sure what it will entail but I am going to see what they are talking about. I don’t think my current employment allows for the flexibility of an “on call” position but rather a set schedule for a part-time position. I am still going to participate in the interview and get all of the information and details. I worked retail for years in college for Structure (Express for Men) so I have some retail experience. I manage my own portfolio of Bank customers all day long so I have customer service experience. We’ll see.

My Boss is on leave dealing with a Bank acquisition so I have an interim Team Lead who was coincidentally my first Team Lead when I joined the group. I told him that I had a discussion with my old Boss about a year ago about my salary being below market and the income disparity with my coworkers. I also told him there was talk about me taking on additional responsibilities to justify an increase. I put out there that I was trying to get to $85,000 from $75,000 and I wanted to know what I need to do to make that happen. He agreed that they should have circled back to me by now with some decision and said he would follow up and talk to my Boss and the Head of our Group. Otherwise, I told him I may need some flexibility with my schedule so I can leave a little earlier to get part-time employment. He looked shocked but people with Money never seem to understand people without it, especially when the person without money has all the tools, education and drive.

I am very educated, driven, experienced and well…broke. We’ll see what happens.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend…

I had a fantastic weekend. We drove through the night on Thursday evening to Tennessee and arrived around 9am for the 2pm graduation. The graduation was short and sweet and I probably spend about $30 while I was down there.

We drove through the night on Saturday and got home around 5:30am Sunday morning for the 2pm wedding. The wedding was beautiful. I gave the bride and groom $150 which covered our plates at the reception and gave a modest gift ~ $25. I went back and forth with the amount of the gift and this amount is what I was comfortable giving.

There is no doubt that this month hit the Efund hard...down to about $500. I am going to collect myself, dust myself off and have a terrific rest of the year.

Macy’s contacted me about setting up an interview so I need to go online and see what that process is all about. No bites yet on the Roomate site.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chitown Reality Check…

As my reader Kris said yesterday…I am broke. I am $250K in debt. That is one-quarter of a million dollars!!! Like my reader Aaren said…GET IT TOGETHER!!!

Okay…I am going to get it together. I returned the dresses to Macys this afternoon. I am getting the A/C repaired in my car today. That will cost ~ $475. By the end of the month, I will have depleted my Efund by ~ 50% or $1,000.

Here is what I am thinking about doing...

I am thinking about getting a part-time job on the weekend. I applied to DSW and Macys online and I will continue to look for additional opportunities. I would love to work for Crate & Barrel or somewhere at the retail outlet.

I am now actively looking for a roommate. I signed up with an online site that tries to match those seeking a place to live with those looking for a roommate. I put out a request for $700/month and a $700 deposit but I would be happy to get $600. The money would go towards repayment of debt.

I was thinking about liquidating my ESPP and ShareBuilder account and applying the proceeds towards my Perkins Loan. The stock carries a value of ~ $1,500 and the balance on my Perkins loan is ~ $2,500 so that would leave just about $1,000 on the loan. Instead, I think I will continue to hold the investments in case I need to liquidate them and reestablish my Efund. That way, I don’t touch the $10,000 short-term savings.

I am working on it folks.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Damage Breakdown...

Okay, I tallied all of the damage last night. Here is my progress report for the month. I also provided a more detailed breakdown in an effort to provide fuller transparency.

So far, my Efund is down $600 and I don't have any funds in my checking account so any additional spending comes from the Efund the rest of the month.

Returns will boost my checking account. Everything has been paid for with cash.


Clothing & Shopping - $291:

Clothing and shopping is going down at least $120. I need clothing and undergarments (badly). I can't get everything all at once so I did buy ONE undergarment set on Saturday for $85.

I also bought two dresses from Macys with the idea that I was going to come home, try them on and decide which one to keep. Once I return the one dress, clothing and shopping will drop ~ $130.

Here is what I think I am going to do about the dress situation. I have a black dress (albeit a size 10) from about 5 years ago that I think I can squeeze into. I am going to go home tonight and try it on. If I can fit it, then I will also return the other dress. It cost $165 (with 10.25% Chicago sales tax) but I had a $100 gift card to Macy's that my parents gave me for Christmas so I only paid $65 for the coral dress. I do hate wearing Black to a wedding. I look more like I am going to a funeral.

So there you have it, Clothing and Shopping could drop by $195.

Personal Care - $225:

I got my hair chopped off...close to 2 inches. Due to stress and too much heat, my hair was badly damaged so I went to the hairdressor and she had to cut it. In an effort to never have that happen again, I purchased additional curly hair products so that I can wear my hair natural more often. I spoke with my sylist and she knows I will only be coming in on occassion just to get my ends clipped. I may go in every 8 weeks but she won't wash and condition it, just trim the ends so the cost should be around $20 every 8 weeks compared to $50/month.

I needed proactiv and I got a pedicure. Yes I did...I got a pedicure for $33 with tip. I am going to have my toes out this weekend in Tennesee for the graduation and the wedding. I won't go again for the rest of the month.

So, I made steps to reduce my hair appointments and monthly personal care budget by $50/month.

Miscellaneous - $1,312:

Here is the breakdown for miscellaneous:

  1. Car repair - $615 (paid for by my parents)
  2. Mother's Day - $209 (includes gifts and food)
  3. Graduation Gifts - $100
  4. Birthday Gifts - $193
  5. Prescriptions - $178

My prescription was not covered by insurance but the cream should last at least 6 months. This was for the bad burn that I got last year.

Birthday gifts includes $25 for my little cousin's birthday and $168 for concert tickets to see Erykah Badu. I got the tickets for my boyfriend's birthday next month and it is also my June entertainment. His birthday is June 6th and I didn't plan to buy anything until next month but the notification for the ticket sale came out and he is a huge fan. So, I thought it would be a perfect birthday gift and entertainment for June. I just had to pay for it in May because the tickets would have sold out by June.

The Rest of May:

  1. Wedding Gift - $150-$200
  2. Car A/C Repair - $475 (getting it done tomorrow - dealership cost $700)

Here is the detailed breakdown:



Monday, May 10, 2010

Taking Time Off…

Chitown put in for a week of vacation. I need one bad but I couldn’t figure out the best time to go since I needed to be in the office for this training, that meeting, this project or that judicial sale, etc. I had Mandatory Customer Service Training to attend on May 25th and that seemed like the only week I could take off until the middle of June. I cannot wait until June….I might lose my mind.

So I went to my Team Lead and told him I needed some time off and asked him what would happen to me if I missed the training. Thank God for good management. He waived me off and said…Take it!!! So, I am going to take the week of May 24th off and come back after Memorial day on June 1st. I will get back just in time for one of my properties to go for judicial sale on June 2nd. Oh boy...

10 days off work!!! =)

Damage Control…

Chitown in doing damage control. I took a huge financial hit this month. I am so overwhelmed with my life that I am just taking care of stuff and dealing with it later. I know...bad planning and bad move.

Besides being under the weather and having little to no energy myself, my mother is half losing her mind with having to take care of my grandmother and father. This weekend, she completely lost it about Mother’s Day because she couldn’t make a decision. To top things off, my Uncle flew in to stay with my parents so he could visit with my grandmother on Mother’s Day. So, there was yet another person for my mom to take care of. Needless to say, it got to a point where my sister and I needed take the entire thing out of her hands because she couldn’t make another decision or do anything more.

We were combining Mother’s Day with my little cousin’s birthday celebration since he turns 10 today and everyone would be together. So, the whole day cost me between $300-$400 to plan a Mother’s Day/ Birthday dinner for 12 people and get gifts. I still have to tally the entire damage. My Mom usually takes care of everything and we just show up. So the money she and my dad gave me to fix my car pretty much went to pay for Sunday.

It’s been a mess. I took my car into the shop on Saturday for a second opinion on the air conditioner and I will need to replace the A/C lines. The inspection cost me $50. The shop is going to call me this morning with repair cost since the Nissan part shop was closed on Saturday.

I am traveling to Tennessee on Thursday for a graduation and I have a wedding to attend here in Chicago on Sunday. I tried going to look for a single dress to wear to both events because I have nothing to wear. NOTHING!!! I found a dress in Macys but it cost me about $80. The graduation present cost me $100. The graduation is for my boyfriend’s twin sisters. I went in with my boyfriend and got them gift certificates so they can get some work clothes to start their new life in the “real world.” My boyfriend’s parents rented a huge cabin so we are staying with them. I went in an extra $25 each for the gifts since their parents are paying for our accommodations. Good luck kiddos…the real world sucks.

Anyway, the wedding is on Sunday and I will be writing a check for that too. My boyfriend is attending with me so I need to decide on an appropriate amount. Proper etiquette dictates that I cover the cost of our plates and give a gift on top of that amount. They are having the wedding at a golf club but I don’t think the cost per plate it too high…something around $65/ person. I remember her saying something about the reception costing close to $4,000 and she is only inviting 62 people so that is about $65/person.

My net worth is going to take a hit this month, especially with the market down too. I haven’t had time to tally everything and I will know more once they call me with the cost of the car repair. Once the graduation, wedding and car situation is over…I will pretty much be done spending money for the month and my Emergency fund will hover around $1,200. I hope!

I swear, most days I just want to throw up the white flag and stop trying. I know I could be making smarter and better decisions but I feel like I am just going with the flow.